We didn't get to see The Rock and BillG's X-box smackdown, but we did get to
see plenty of new products that will be helpful whether you're starting to
build your network, or already have one and are looking to upgrade
In addition to coverage of new router and 802.11b
wireless products, we'll be reporting on HomeRF
and Bluetooth developments. Power line
networking ain't dead yet, either, and we'll tell you why. We
found a number of products designed to bridge the gap (didn't even know you
had a gap, didya?) between your network and your home audio
system(s) that we'll fill you in on, too. We'll also tell you
about the tablet products that we actually got to try, and
a network storage device that we thought was pretty
interesting. Finally, we'll fill you in on the happenings in two-way
mileage may vary!
All pricing and availability info that follows is the best info that we are
able to get, and is subject to change.
Just before the show, we were tipped to Panasonic's
entry into the Home Gateway market, the Concourse
Broadband Networking Gateway. Available now for $299,
it sports 10BaseT Ethernet and HomePNA2.0 LAN interfaces. You can
add 11Mbps wireless capability by adding a $199 radio card,
but since Panasonic uses ShareWave's
Whitecap standard (the same as the upcoming NETGEAR 11X
series), you won't be able to use it with either 802.11b WiFi or 1.6Mbps
Something you will be able to use with
802.11b products is 3COM's long-awaited Home
Wireless Gateway. Due to start shipping in Feb, it'll have
an on-line price of $300-$325.
If you don't need wireless, you can go for 3COM's other
new entry into the low-cost routing arena, the Home
Ethernet Gateway. Although more nicely packaged, the 3C510's
feature set is very similar to the Asante FriendlyNet/SMC Barricade 4
port routers. Also available in Q1 2001, the
Gateway will set you back about $130.
We also got a look at the Nokia MW1122
ADSL and MW1642
SDSL WLAN Gateways, but didn't do much digging since they have DSL
WAN adapters. 2Wire's
stand was continuously packed with folks checking out the new wireless
versions of their Home Portals that we previously
told you about.
The new development that we found in Routers and Gateways was that not all the
vendors want you to buy their products... at least not you, the consumer,
directly. Their target buyer is your Service Provider, who they want to buy their products, and
then resell them to you the same way you buy your
cell phone... with their service bundled.
The most ambitious of these
companies is UCentric,
which was a Finalist in TechTV's "Best of CES" Home Automation and
Networking category. Their Home Networking Platform consists of
a Linux based OS, applications server, home networking
applications, and hardware reference design. They had a pretty impressive
demo that showed the ability of their system to tie computers, televisions,
phones, and audio systems into a home networking system via just about any
interface that exists. UCentric's system can support unified messaging
(email, voicemail, instant messaging, callerID display), and web browsing on
both computers and TVs. It'll play MP3 audio through TVs, FM stereo
receivers or computers, and MPEG2 video through TVs or computers, too! (Home automation support is slated for future system releases.)
had a pretty sexy looking box that ISPs will be able to either resell or
incorporate into their own design. So far, they've signed NETGEAR
and Cisco as partners with other announcements promised.
also has a box, the DSL2000
Broadband Services Gateway, but their focus was more on their GateView Element Management System,
which ISPs would use to manage the Gateways. The DSL2000's specs weren't
too shabby, with 10/100BaseT, HomePNA2.0, and USB LAN interfaces
supported. The DSL2000 can also be a "micro PBX" with up to 10 VoDSL
extensions sharing 4 derived phone lines, in addition to its Internet sharing
The folks at Home
Wireless Networks will be happy to sell you their AirWay TransPort
DSL/cable modem Gateway from their Web site, but primarily are looking to
move product through OEMs and ISPs. Backed by Lucent, but using the
Intersil PRISM II chipset (!), they also have products that can create a
wireless mini-PBX. The phone products will share a dial-up Internet
connection only, however.
Moving further down the Broadband Gateway food chain, we find DoBox.
Their product is software only and their pitch is to makers of Home Gateways, so
it's not likely that you'll hear much about them unless they succeed in branding
their platform (think "powered by DoBox") inside other companies'
products. The demo I saw showed the ability to set a user-based profile
that specified access privileges by content, service, and time of day. Content filtering is provided via a partnership with ah-ha.com.
In case you didn't notice, U.S.
Robotics was spun back out of 3COM in September 2000. Since then,
they've been pretty busy, and used CES to announce their wireless and broadband
Internet product lines. They'll be rolling out an ADSL USB modem
and DOCSIS 1.0 Ethernet Cable modem in Q2 2001, as well as an ADSL
Ethernet Router, and HomePNA based products. I spent most of my
time checking out their 802.11b wireless stuff, which should be
available in Q1 2001. The lineup includes an Access Point, PC card, PCI
card, and various product bundles. One unique product is a bundle
(Model 2445) that contains a PCI card that has a cabled antenna.
Curiously, this version isn't available as a separate product, either in PCI
form, or as just the PC card radio itself. Note that the Access
Point is essentially the same product that is available from SMC,
Addtron, and others. And, oh yeah, USR is still in the dialup modem game,
with a full line of V92 modems planned. You wouldn't know this from
looking at their Web site, however!